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Phelps A-Z: Model 5



Fundraising is a non-profit organization’s bread and butter.

It takes up a significant amount of the organization’s time, energy and resources, but is nevertheless essential for ensuring sustainable operations. Phelps Helps maintains and monitors fundraising sources to supplement its strategy including personal networks and ambassadors, grant database, and public funds.

Best practices for building a fundraising strategy for your non-profit

Fundraising is a non-profit organization’s bread and butter. It takes up a significant amount of the organization’s time, energy and resources, but is nevertheless essential for ensuring sustainable operations. Experienced non-profits know how to maximize the efficiency of their fundraising efforts for greater returns. Similarly, organizations with greater insight into their fundraising strategy are generally able to raise more funds in shorter periods of time.

With a decade of experience raising and managing funds for a community non-profit, Phelps Helps has learned a number of best practices for developing and maintaining a successful fundraising strategy. From leveraging partnerships to conducting research to planning funding distribution, non-profits that take the time to cultivate and finesse their fundraising strategy can equip themselves for long-term success.

Seek out partners and collaborators

Securing funding for your non-profit organization is especially challenging when first starting out. However, strategic partners and collaborators can be instrumental in keeping your activities and programming afloat.

When Phelps Helps began its fundraising journey, the support of local assistance organizations and similar community-focused groups was critical. Whether by providing shared spaces to host activities or sharing opportunities to collaborate for community events, Phelps’ strong network of relationships was a big part of establishing funding donors as well as awareness for the organization’s mission and vision.


Do your research

Establishing a diverse pool of revenue sources is also a recommended best practice for your non-profit’s fundraising strategy. The government, public institutions, private companies and individuals are all examples of places you might look for resources to support your cause.


Ensuring that your non-profit has multiple funding sources is important for promoting financial sustainability. A sufficiently diversified selection of fundraising sources also helps reduce your organization’s vulnerability and potential financial exposure—if one donor falls through, it won’t mark the end of your programming

Phelps Helps maintains and monitors the following fundraising sources to supplement its strategy:

Personal networks and ambassadors

Phelps Helps Board Members, staff, volunteers and community supporters all act as fundraising ambassadors on the organization’s behalf, often acting as a starting point for identifying potential donors.

Grand database

By tracking and monitoring grants available for non-profits and charitable organizations, Phelps Helps maintains a grant database that staff can access as necessary

Public funds

All levels of government typically reserve funding envelopes for community initiatives that non-profit organizations can access.

Keep key documents on hand

You never know when you might run into a donor or fundraising source for your non-profit, so it’s best to be prepared. Potential donors will expect to be provided with relevant documents about your organization’s cause, governance and programming as well as information about how you intend to use the funds you raise.

Examples of key documents you should have ready on-demand for fundraising sources include:


Fact Sheet

A one-page overview of the issues your organization works to resolve, its impact and overall funding requirements.


Presentation deck

A pitch presentation containing your non-profit’s current funding needs and objectives for sit-down meetings with donors.


Annual report

A formal document summarizing your organization’s mission and vision, its activities for the past year, success metrics and audited financial statements.


Appeal letter

A generic communications piece intended for government officials, municipal groups and other formal entities to assist with grant applications, petitions, etc.



Prioritize relationship building

Developing a defined process for meeting and following up with both existing and potential donors is also vital for the sustainability of your organization’s fundraising strategy. Although simple in theory, repeating the following four steps can have a significant impact on your fundraising steps over time:



Arrange a face-to-face meeting for the most effective first experience with a funding source.


Follow up:

Eventually circle back with every funding source you meet with by making personal calls, sharing additional information or updates about your organization or arranging subsequent in-person meetings.



Once the receipt of a donation has been confirmed, maintain connections with donors via newsletters, personal thank you notes, invitations to various events, or establishing recurring in-person meetings, among other means.


Repeat with new introductions:

Leveraging existing funding sources and other stakeholders as ambassadors, expand your strategy to new donors and repeat the process.

Looking for more best practices?

A solid fundraising strategy is undoubtedly crucial for any non-profit organization’s success, but other elements such as volunteer recruitment, collaboration and community buy-in are important as well. Download our Phelps A to Z Handbook to learn more about strengthening your community non-profit to withstand economic and organizational challenges.   

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